About a year and a half ago, a man named Jonathan Blow came out of nowhere to make a mind-blowing, time bending platformer called Braid. About a year and a half later, Take 2 Interactive decided to take a crack at the same genre with The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom. Now, this title doesn’t do much to tell you what the game is about, but it is a time bending platformer, in which you make copies of yourself to grab some pie.
In the game, you play as Winterbottom, a fat little man with a gigantic nose who is obsessed with pie. He is obsessed with it so much, that he breaks the space time continuum just to get some more. The story plays out in old time movie stills, all in black in white, and is laid out like poetry, with one line rhyming with the next. It is a very interesting and fun way to deliver the story, making you chuckle as you see what two words they rhyme together.
The gameplay is broken up into five levels, and each of those levels is broken down into around a dozen challenges to get through to complete the level. To get to the next level, you have to determine how to use your copies in the various puzzles and earn enough pie to move on. The puzzles are very clever, but also very challenging. I found myself at times getting stuck at the simplest ones, and when I do finally figure it out, I have a “eureka” moment, but then feel like a complete idiot, and at the same time achieving a certain level of satisfaction for being able to figure it out. If I had to compare it to something other than Braid, the gameplay is very similar to the Clank levels of the most recent Ratchet and Clank.
A problem that I had was all the puzzles were not open from the beginning. If you get stuck on a puzzle, you will not be able to move on until you can figure it out, which in some cases can be a long time. This is also due to the fact that there is not a hint system in the game, and for people who are new to this genre, I think that it is something that should be implemented. It doesn’t have to be much of a hint, but just something to get the wheels turning, and making you think of the puzzle in another light. This is not to say that the gameplay is bad on its own, but it takes a certain type of person to want to play these types of games, and if you are not good at thinking outside of the box, there isn’t much fun to be had for you here.
Even with all of these complaints, 2K has given you a lot of things to do for ten dollars. Along with the meaty five levels that I have already mentioned, there are also bonus challenge rooms, where you have to grab a certain number of pies in a certain time limit. These are also very unique, with you trying to figure out the quickest way to grab them. There are also online leader boards for this section of the game, and for the fans, I’m sure that this is something that they have been waiting to get their hands on.
The graphical style of Winterbottom is where this game really stands out from the competition. The whole game is in black and white, with old time film grain and unique music. The music has a sort of Danny Elfman feel, similar to the music he has done for movies such as The Nightmare before Christmas. Along with the things I mentioned earlier about the poetry and still introductions, this game really feels like it took a long time to make it; something that would stand on its own in terms of art style. It almost feels as if Tim Burton created this game, with odd ball character design and memorable little moments like the rhyming intros. It is truly a sight to see just in graphics alone.
Overall, The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom is game for people who like to think. However, the game is not for everyone. The puzzles can be difficult and challenging, and don’t mind kicking you when you’re down. But if you can get past that, and enjoy trying to find unorthodox ways of solving riddles, then this game will really be one that you can hold near and dear to your heart, and you will want to eat all the pie you can get your grubby little hands on.
Review copy provided by publisher.